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Saturday, July 26, 2008
X-Files: I Want To Believe
When I heard the news that Mulder and Scully would be returning to the big-screen, I was filled both excitement and trepidation.

Excitement because when the X-Files was on its game, it was one of the best shows ever made. And trepidation because, well, seasons eight and nine. Or as I call it--when Chris Carter got way too convinced he was some kind of genius.

So, a new X-Files movie. It could have been great, it could have been not so great.

Having seen it, I have to say it's firmly in the middle.

It's not great, but it's not terrible. It's a throwback to the old monster of the week stories with very few references to the overall mythology of the show. Long-time, hard core fans will catch a few Easter egg references to some of the best episodes and if you're really eagle-eyed, you catch the Chris Carter habit of throwing in names of friends and family in the background. I caught at least two (the name of a store owner and the names in Mulder's cell phone). But I am willing to be there are more.

Six years have past since Mulder and Scully went on the run to end the series. Mulder is still a recluse and Scully works at Catholic hospital. Her biggest case is a boy with an incurable disease--well, except for a radical treatment involving stem cells. Mulder lives out in the woods and....well, it seems he spends all day clipping out articles from the paper about strange cases. The FBI has a case, involving a possible psychic former priest who is leading agents to parts of bodies and has a connection to a case of a missing agent. The FBI needs Mulder and decides to forgive and forget if he'll help them. Scully convinces him and soon Mulder is back on the case, dragging a reluctant Scully with him.

The story is about faith, which went along with some of the themes of the series. Mulder had absolute faith in the unexplained and Scully had her own Christian faith that developed over the series run. The movie starts with a lot of unanswered questions about how these two have had their faith shattered and are looking for something to believe in. Pretty soon the old dynamic develops where Mulder believes, but Scully doesn't.

The biggest problem with the movie is that Mulder and Scully are kept apart too much. Scully has clearly moved on while Mulder hasn't. This is supposed to provide some conflict and it does to an extent. But the best scenes are when David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are together, playing off each other. When they're not together, the movie doesn't quite work as well and when the two are in conflict, it feels like they're trying to keep them apart for dramatic purposes and not for a really organic reason. (As in organically dictated by the unfolding storyline).

Eventually, the plot threads all converge and we get an interesting finale and a promise for more, should the box-office results warrant it.

But is the journey worth the ride? Yes and no. I say that because Chris Carter is clearly trying to please too many people with the script by he and Frank Spotnitz. They create Mulder and Scully conflict but also have some scenes for those "shippers" who felt that Mulder and Scully just HAD to be together (I was never in that camp). They avoid too many connections to the conspiracy, settling for a monster of the week plot without the scariest of monsters. It ends up being a serial killer story with a possible connection to the psychic priest, but in the end the story tries to cover all its bases and have "everybody win." That ends up being a bit unsatisfying.

Of course, the movie is visually well done and it's nice to see some familiar faces again. The one recurring role that needed to be included was and the music by Mark Snow does a good job setting the mood.

I fear, however, that the movie came out too late. Not as in six years too late, but as in the week after the best movie of the summer. I have a feeling Dark Knight will eat X-Files lunch this week and this will be the last time we see Mulder and Scully together.

But it will leave you with a better taste in your mouth than the horrible series finale...

At least that's something.

Labels: ,

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/26/2008 05:33:00 PM | |
Thursday, July 24, 2008
"Has anyone flipped you off today?"
It was a surreal morning coming into work this morning. I feel like I've wandered into some kind of dystopian view of reality and am desparately looking for the pause or stop button on this wacky movie of life.

It started with the infrequent patrol of the HOV lane, which always results in wackiness. You can always tell the violators because as soon as they see the flashing lights up ahead, they try to get over into the non-HOV lanes. Never mind that there are cars there. I always find myself thinking, "If you can't pay the fine, don't do the crime."

Later in my commute, I was reminded of an old friend from college who, when she was get annoyed with you, would say, "Has anyone flipped you off today?" My answer this morning would be, "Yes, yes I have." Apparently a burgundy Pontiac decided at the last second they needed to merge to get onto 440. Which is fine, if the driver had bothered to check his or her mirrors and/or the blind spot. Alas, this idea didn't occur to them until I was honking at them because I was in the same spot in time and space they wanted to occupy. And with a car near enough next to me in the other lane, I had no where to go. So, I honked my horn and was politely shot the one-finger salute.


But that's not even the most surreal and strange thing I witnessed this morning. Walking up the hill to my office, I encountered two guys at the crosswalk. First guy has a blackberry and is engrossed in it. For sake of ease, I will refer to him as Green Shirt. Other guy is wearing a red shirt so we'll call him Red Shirt. Green shirt starts across crosswalk with the "Don't Walk" sign lit and is nearly mowed down by a car turning left. My second sighting of the bird today occurs as driver flips off Green Shirt. Car moves on, Green Shirt crosses and Red Shirt begins to cross and this conversation occurs.

Red Shirt: Jeez Louise, dude (he didn't actually say Jeez Louise, but this is a PG blog). Get off your freakin' blackberry for a second.

Green Shirt: I'm sorry. Is something wrong?

Red Shirt: You need to get off your blackberry and pay attention to the world for a change, jerk.

Green Shirt: Why are you so mad at me?

Red Shirt: Because you almost freakin' got run over, using your blackberry!

At this point, they were both walking along, blocking the sidewalk. I fell back a bit, worried I'd see a fist fight erupt and wanting to give them some space. I thought of speeding up to pass them, but based on how Red Shirt reacted to a guy using a blackberry, I can only imagine what he'd say if someone had the audacity to walk faster than he did.

Yep, a pretty surreal kind of morning, making me wonder if I somehow missed the exit for Nashville and ended up in New York City instead....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/24/2008 11:45:00 AM | |
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The Happiness Challenge '08
A couple of years ago, Dana over at Pretty Purple Princess issued a challenge to the blogosphere for the month of August. It was called the Happiness Challenge and for the month of August, you were challenged to post something positive or something that made you happy or made you smile, etc. each day in your blog.

I've joined in the August Happiness Challenge each of the last couple of years and really enjoyed it. And yes, a lot of my posts about things that make me happy can be the same from year to year (such as, there will inevitably be on that declares it's on x-number of days until UT football kicks off, thank heavens!). But it's still a lot of fun and a great way to remind ourselves of the good things in our lives and the many blessings we have.

So, I'll issue the challenge again this year to anyone who wants to participate. You don't even have to post daily about the things that make you happy. But I encourage you to take up the challenge and agree to post once, twice, three times a week about the things that bring joy and happiness to you.

And if you're particpating, leave a comment to let me know.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/23/2008 11:55:00 AM | |

Bluegrass at the Ryman: Bradley Walker and Cherryholmes
Of all the concerts in this year's Bluegrass Night series, it was this one I was looking forward to the most. Last year, Cherryholmes blew me away and after spending the last year trying to wear out their CDs, I was really looking forward to seeing them in concert again.

And this year's show was as good, if not better than last year's.

Another year of practice, working and playing together has only improved Cherryholmes. And they were pretty fantastic to begin with. A few weeks ago, Vince Gill talked about the ability to harmonize within families and no where is that more evident than here. The entire family's ability to blend voices, find the right notes and harmonize is just one of the things that makes this group such a sensation. The other is that everyone in the group is amazingly talented and can play a wide variety of instruments--and play them well.

I was also impressed by the selection of songs for this year's show. There were a few old favorites from last year, but most of the show was new material, hopefully a lot of it from their third CD due out in September. I didn't get the feeling that the group has a set they do, so much as they have a large range of numbers to choose from. Of course, the fact that they chose one of my favorites "Heat of the Morning" to play didn't hurt things at all.

I could go on and on about how great they were and how I didn't want the show to end. A fantastic show and I can only hope they'll be back next year.

Opening the show for Cherryholmes was Bradley Walker, a singer I'd never heard of before. But his set made me sit up and take notice. Walker has a strong, solid voice and I found myself wondering if he was related to Clay Walker. Their voices do have some similiarities. I couldn't find anything on his web site confirming this, but you never know. Walker's songs were all great and you had the feeling that this was a guy just out here, honored to be there and living his dream. It showed in his songs and peformance.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/23/2008 09:59:00 AM | |
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Dark Knight
Batman Begins is about the journey Bruce Wayne undergoes to become a hero to Gotham City and Dark Knight is about the consequences of that decision--not only on Bruce, but everyone who comes into his sphere of influence.

It's a sharp, compelling movie that proves that summer blockbuster can appeal to all sides. It has explosions, crashes and superbly done action, but underneath that is a layer of something deeper and more thought provoking than just your ordinary action thriller. The story is about choices, decisions and consequences and the impact of all of those on the central trio of the film--Batman/Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent.

As the movie begins, it's a year after Batman Begins and Gordon with his ally Batman is making a difference. Ordinary citizens are donning Batman like outfits to battle the forces of corruption. Onto the scene comes the new district attorney, Harvey Dent, who becomes part of the crusade. Because of an early success of battling the mob and corruption in Gotham, the events of the second half of the film are set in motion.

The Joker, who Batman and the police have been pursuing, emerges from the shadows, telling the mob that their problem is the Batman and offering to take him out. But what the Joker is doing is throwing disorder into the order that everyone is striving to create. He's a wild card, unpredictable and rogue. The Joker isn't bound by the code of ethics and rules that bind the other three and he slowly begins to push their buttons, especially with Batman.

The idea of what makes a hero and just where that line is between good and evil that makes the movie fascinating. Also, the movie doesn't shy away from having our heroes have to make hard choices and live with them. The Joker creates scenarios that are all no win for everyone and stands back as choices are made and lives are shattered. It's only after he's seen how far he can push the trio that he makes his ultimate move--deciding to take over Gotham City.

This is not your typical summer blockbuster. It's dark, it's going to make you think and it's going to entertain you no end. It doesn't have easy answers and while it will leave you yearning for the next installment (and there had better be a next one), it leaves our heroes in a place similar to Empire Strikes Back--with the good guys taking one on the chin.

All the praise you've heard about Heath Ledger's work as Joker is well-earned. His take on the Joker is mesmerizing. The scenes where he recounts how he became scarred are among the scariest and most compelling in the movie. But while Ledger is on another level, so is everyone else in the movie.

If you've not seen it, go and see it now. Don't wait.

I will offer one warning--this is PG-13 for a reason. If you've got kids under 13, it might be best to make them wait to see it. This is a dark, scary movie and there are some parts that could be disturbing to the under 13 crowd. Heaven knows I'm over 13 and I found some parts disturbing myself.

Disturbing, compelling, though-provoking and everything it promised to be and more. Dark Knight delivers. Best movie of the summer.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/19/2008 10:01:00 PM | |
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Guess who's playing at the Ryman tonight...

One of my favorite bluegrass (and all-around) groups, Cherryholmes is playing tonight at the Ryman. Last year's show knocked my socks off and I have high expectations of this year's show.
If you've not heard of the group, I encourage you to run, not walk, and pick up a CD or two. This group has "mad skills" and is one of the most talented and entertaining you're likely to hear in any genre.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/17/2008 12:29:00 PM | |
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The book is always better...
We've all heard the old adage, "The book is always better" (to which I add the caveat: if it came first and isn't a novelization based on the script).

Two movies I've seen lately only confirmed this for me. And the shame of it is that I was really looking forward to seeing both.

The movies are The List and The Ruins, both of which were books first that I really liked. The other similiarity is that both novels were adapted for the screen by the authors involved in writing them. And while I know that in every book adapted for the screen, some things have to be compacted and some eliminated, I find myself scratching my head as to why the authors decided to do what they did in adapting their novels for the big screen.

The first is The Ruins, which if you've not read it is a scary little book for the first three-quarters. It does start to stretch the premise a bit thin by the novel's last quarter, but it's still a compelling little read. It's not great literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it's still a good summer time read. The story follows two American couples on a spring break and a couple of other guys who head out into a Mexican jungle looking for some off-the-beaten-path Myan ruins. They find the ruins, covered in some kind of native plant and meet a group of natives who try to warn them away from the site. But once one of the girls steps on the plant, the group is forced onto the ruin and not allowed to leave. Why you ask? Well, turns out the plant is a pretty nasty one.

The story is pure horror and some pretty horrible things happen to our heroes out there. One guy falls down the shaft in the middle of the ruins, breaking his back and suffering a gruesome, slow death. One girl gets a cut and the plant works its way inside her, leading to her becoming obsessed with getting it out and taking steps to get it out. There is a LOT of blood and gore in this one and if you're not up for that, then I'd suggest not seeing it.

And while the gore and such is over the top, it was no where nearly as bad as the mental picture I had in my head when I read the book. Yes, it was all cringe-worthy and I had to look away, but it still was no where near as unsettling as the novel.

The script also made some interesting choices in what it dropped. One aspect that is dropped is one of the girls keeps falling asleep on watch, thus allowing the plant to creep in and attack. It also highlights the basic selfishness of the character. In fact, a lot of the character stuff is dropped from the book. Instead, we get four pretty people who are in a really bad situation. The impact of the characters' demise is better in the book because we care about them as people and not just as "the blonde girl", "the blonde guy" etc.

And the movie makes some odd choices, reassigning roles from the book. I won't say much as it will ruin the final half of the movie and the book, but it's jarring enough that it took me out of the movie.

The movie does play a lot with the book's ending, though it does leave the final stinger in tact. The problem with that is the same one I had with the book--it's working too hard to set up a potential sequel or have that Twilight Zone-like jolt that it just doesnt' work.

Then there was Robert Whilow's The List.

Based on the contempoary-Christian legal thriller, I had high hopes for this one and had been looking forward to seeing it since I heard it was being made into a movie last year. It seemed to take forever to come out on DVD (it was never at a theater near me that I could see) and I have to admit I was really eager to see it.

And maybe I had my expectations too high. But this movie was..well, just not that great. The acting was wooden and unconvincing. Maybe part of that is that a lot of the story is the internal struggle of our hero as he goes on his own spiritual journey and eventually comes to realize the only answer is a relationship with Jesus. The thing is that in all of Whitlow's novels is that this journey never feels forced and it's not always "black and white" like other novels, where you know who is going to be saved by the mid-point of the novel and who isn't. Whitlow makes this journey feel authentic in his stories..and that journey just doesn't have the authenticity it needs here.

I'm not sure if the script is to blame or the acting. Or the direction. Or maybe all three. Universally, the acting is pretty much not that hot, even Malcolm McDowell as the villain. Of course, it's hard to hear McDowell doing a really bad Southern accent and trying to look menacing. And maybe it's that I read the book, but the plot twists are too telegraphed by the script to be a shock, instead leading us to think our hero is a fool and a turkey for not seeing them coming.

I wanted to like both of these movies. But I came away disappointed by both. Which is a shame as I think done right they could have been blockbusters.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/15/2008 02:36:00 PM | |
Monday, July 14, 2008
Bluegrass at the Ryman: Dailey and Vincent, IIIrd Tyme Out, Rhoda Vincent and the Rage
I was expecting great things from this week's show at the Ryman but I have to admit overall it was mixed. We had one superb group, one good group and one group that I expected a better show from.

The one I expected a better show from was IIIrd Tyme Out. I'd never seen them in concert before, but my parents had a few years ago, singing their praises. So, I was really looking forward to hearing them. And yet, I came away a bit...well, dissapointed. I'm not sure whether it was the group or the audience just didn't have any energy. But their set was just OK and really didn't thrill me that much--or the rest of the audience either. The group didn't get a unanimous standing ovation and wasn't asked back for an encore.

I think a large part of that was that freshman group Dailey and Vincent had taken the stage first and had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. In a mere twenty minutes, this group went from unfamiliar newcomer to a new favorite for me. They did gospel, they did acapella and they nearly brought the house down with "More Than a Name on the Wall." Front-lined by Jamie Dailey (who was with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver the past two years) and Darrin Vincent (brother of Rhonda), this group was smooth, professional, polished and fun. The mob around them after the show to buy CDs and have them signed was a huge signal that they'd rocked the house. And the wore orange shirts with orange ties, which immediately gave them two steps up in my book.

Finally, we got Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, who I've seen the past three years. I'd put this show below last year's but above the year before. Last year's show had a dynamic to it that this one didn't quite capture. It was still good, but I did miss Rhonda doing her version of "Jolene" and one of her better songs, "Ghost of a Chance." Both of those are favorites of mine and can never be performed enough live in my estimation. But I guess when you have as long a career and such a reportoire as Vincent, you have the luxury of choosing from a LOT of great songs to make up your set each night. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it...I did. But after being blown away by Dailey and Vincent, the next two acts had a high bar set.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/14/2008 03:16:00 PM | |

The Green Bay Kobayshi Maru
Watching the situation in Green Bay unfold, I realize the Green Bay Packers have their own version of the Kobayashi Maru unfolding. It's a no-win situation all around and for everyone involved.

Should Favre come back to the Packers and have a year like the two before last year's career year, it will tarnish his legacy.
Favre's return could divide not only the fans but the team as a whole. You've got a new offense being put in around new QB Aaron Rodgers and his strengths and abilities.
Do you really think Brett Favre will be a back-up? And if he is, how many snaps into the pre-sesaon before Packer fans are demanding Favre be put into the game?
If you trade Favre, you run the risk of him beating you in the regular season or playoffs.

There is really no good comprimise to this situation. I'm not a big Packer fan, but I do like the team and what Brett Favre brought to the team and the league. It's a shame to see him putting that good will and his potential legacy on the line with this. I wonder which side will blink first in this game of chicken...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/14/2008 12:30:00 PM | |
Saturday, July 12, 2008
A pre-emptive open letter to Dan Snyder
Dear Mr. Snyder,

As a life-long Washington Redskins fan, I've watched some of the off-field moves you've made since acquiring the franchise. That's why I'm writing to you today.

I saw on SportsCenter today that Packer legend and quarterback Brett Favre has asked the team for an unconditional release so that he can shop his services to any other team in the league. A quick rundown of teams that could use Mr. Favre's services was gone over and I was happy to note that the Redskins weren't in the list.

And it should stay that way. I know this is the type of move you usually gleefully make. For some reason, you keep confusing playing fantasy football with how you actually create a winning team in the NFL. And from that perspective, bringing in Favre would seem like "the most awesome move ever."

Now, I respect Favre and what he's done. That said, given how you missed the chance to hire Greg Williams as your head coach to continue the work Joe Gibbs did in his second tenure in D.C. and the fact that we need to build a team around a young core of talent and not overpaid veterans, I implore you to keep your checkbook firmly in your pocket on this one.

Please, please, please, Mr.Snyder. Is that asking too much?

Big Orange Michael


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/12/2008 08:10:00 AM | |
Friday, July 11, 2008
Man sues Bible, really.
Heard a report on the radio that a guy in Michigan is suing Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, Inc. Why do you ask?
A Michigan man is trying. Bradley LaShawn Fowler, 39, has filed lawsuits in a Michigan federal court against Zondervan Publishing and Thomas Nelson Inc., claiming some editions of the Bibles those companies put out specifically declare homosexuality to be sinful, which has led him to suffer discrimination, emotional pain and mental instability.

Fowler is seeking $60 million from Zondervan, alleging its Bibles refer to homosexuality as a sin and have made him an outcast from his family and contributed to physical discomfort and periods of "demoralization, chaos and bewilderment."

He is seeking an additional $10 million from Thomas Nelson.

The suit against Zondervan cites a specific passage of the company's 1982 and 1987 editions, 1 Corinthians 6:9:

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral no idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders."

Fowler claims the term "homosexual" was edited out of the 1989 and 1994 editions.
I'm guessing the next people to sue will be adulterers, liars, thieves and murderers since the Bible has some pretty harsh things to say about them as well.

I hope King James and Johannes Guttenburg have some good lawyers cause I have a feeling if this suit works, they'll be the next on the list for people to come after.

I also can't wait to see how they plan to subpoena God to the stand to testify in the trial...

Further proof that a)we have too many lawyers and b)we're a nation of cry-babies.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/11/2008 09:28:00 PM | |
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Has the All-Star Game lost its luster?
As you all know, when it comes to sports, football is greatest passion (some would say obsession, esp. those of you who followed by Twitter commentary on the 2006 UT vs Alabama game the other night where even though I knew the outcome was a victory for the Big Orange, I still got nervous and bent out of shape during the broadcast of the game. I also danced like a fool when the Vols went on their only sustained drive of the game in the final quarter for the game-winning TD as the ball broke the end zone).

That said, I still do have an affection of the other games that are played out there...well, at least on a college level. I find it hard to sustain much interest in the NBA or Major League Baseball simply because it seems like the seasons never end and their playoffs are designed to last half a calendar year.

But, I still love college baseball and basketball and I find the minor league game fascinating.

I even worked for a minor league team years and years ago, selling souveniers during the long, lazy days of summer. And I also tried to make it a point each year to tune into the All-Star Game. Sure, I may not sit down and watch an entire game on TV, but the All-Star game was a different beast entirely.

Or at least it used to be....

I've not watched an All-Star game in years. And I'd be interested in the Home Run Derby if it weren't covered by Chris "I Have to Make Up a Stupid Nickname For Everyone" Berman.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks the All-Star game has lost some of its luster. There was a column in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer by Bob Ford that summed it up:

Baseball used to have the best all-star game in sports. That was before interleague play, of course, when there was still a mystique to any meeting between players of the American and National leagues. One team in home whites, the other in road grays. All those different uniforms, all those great stars.

That was before fan voting, too, before the selection of the starting position players became a bad joke. Now the all-star manager has to fix the mistakes made by the fans the best way he can. He has to get at least one player from every team in the league on the roster. Then he has to nominate five guys for the last spot and throw that back to the fans so Bud can get their e-mail addresses for the identity thieves.

All the teams that have players involved in the Monster All-Star Final Vote are going to ridiculous means to get their guy on the roster. The Phillies are no different, encouraging fans to sit at their computers and click away. Starting yesterday at noon, four lucky fans set up shop at the Harry the K's restaurant in Citizens Bank Park to have a vote-a-thon. The fan who casts the most votes will get an autographed jersey from Burrell and will be invited, along with 15 friends, to sit in Burrell's suite for a game later this season. Sweet!

The rest of the column is worth reading, as well.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/10/2008 03:00:00 PM | |

My very own Wordle
I think the lesson here is: I've not posted nearly enough about my love of all things UT of late.

Either that or I need to get off my you-know-what and post more.

It's one of the two.

Check out my Wordle and create your own. It's fast, fun, easy and free!

HT: Katie

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/10/2008 02:00:00 PM | |
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Who are the geniuses?
Due to new federal regulations that prohibit dedicated shuttles to and from sporting events, MTA announced they have canceled the End Zone Express routes this season.

I'd love to know which turkeys up there in Congress voted for this, somehow thinking it was a great idea. Do they not realize that gas is kind of expensive? And aren't they the ones always encouraging us to make use of public transportation? What happened? Did they just get around to seeing Speed on cable last week and thought, man the terrorists could take over a bus?

Of course, the other bad side to this is that MTA has apparently known for a while, as have the Titans and the Metro Sports Council. And yet, none of these parties saw fit to try and find a solution to help the fans out.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/09/2008 07:30:00 PM | |
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Bluegrass at the Ryman: The Steeldrivers & Vince Gill
What a difference a year can make. Last year, I wasn't the biggest fan of Vince Gill's set as part of the Ryman's summer bluegrass series.

This year's show was tremendous. The biggest thing last year was that Gill would talk to the audience, sharing stories of people he'd shared a microphone with and teasing you about how much he'd loved the experience and the sound. And then, just when you figured he was going to say, "And here is...." he'd launch into the song. Now, I know that the audience is there to see Vince, but it seemed a bit of a tease to get our curiosity up like that.

This year, Vince had a plethora of special guests with him, in addition to his own bluegrass band and they all put on a tremendous show. For me, the highlight was hearing Vince and his daughter, Jenny, sing together. Vince had bragged about the way their voices blended last year and then again this year, so when she came out on stage, expectations were high. And the duo delivered. They sang together on "A River Like You" and did a superb job. Vince also had Ricky Skaggs on hand and the two jammed together on mandolin. He also had two sisters, whose name eludes me, from his early days in the business, who helped sing a couple of songs. After a performance that got better with each song and went on for close to two hours, Vince and the entire group of guests ended the show with "Go Rest High on That Mountain" as bluegrass. Now, I know Vince has released this on a previous album, but I think the bluegrass version with his daughter helping would be a huge hit. I know, I'd run out and buy a copy of it. Or even a bluegrass version of the song, which is pretty powerful no matter what "format" it's performed in.

As if that weren't enough, the show opened with the Steeldrivers, a new bluegrass group that nearly brought the house down. Their lead singer has a deep, rich voice and it reminded me a bit of Travis Tritt. They performed a variety of songs from their first CD, all written by two guys in the group. The most memorable song of the set was one from told from the perspective of an old tree, watching a Civil War battle unfold around it.

I have to admit, of all the shows, I was really the least enthused about this one. However, both performances really delivered and as one guy shouted out during Vince's set "Bluegrass rocks!"

Thursday night at the Ryman, there were no truer words spoken...


posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/05/2008 09:30:00 AM | |
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The blogsphere loses a voice
I was stunned this morning to get the news that blogger Winston Rand has passed away.

Winston…he was a “pretty good guy.” This is how he wanted everyone to remember him.

Actually, Winston was a damn good guy. He was the most honest and caring and giving man I have ever known. I am so fortunate and blessed to have known Winston Rand, to have been married to him for 14 years.

Winston passed away Saturday, June 28, after a 38-hour illness and 3 surgeries totaling 12 hours in an attempt to save his life. His memorial service will be Tuesday, July 1, and will include things you may have seen on his blog, such as his recent post about the styrofoam cup that got tossed about in the traffic of life and found its resting place. His favorite song will be played — “The Rainbow Connection,” by Kermit the Frog, as well as a bluegrass version of Rocky Top.

I never met Winston in person, but we've met via the wonder that is the blogsphere. He was a good man and his voice will be missed--not only on-line but also in that place we call the real world.

Winston Rand, he was a pretty good guy.

Reading the news this morning, I was reminded again of just how fleeting this life can be. Here one moment, gone the next. We don't know the hour we'll be called home. We don't know when we'll be called up to the great Neyland Stadium in the sky, where the Vols are always beating Florida by 20 and Spurrier is throwing the visor in frustration.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Winston Rand. He'll be missed.

Winston Rand, he was a pretty good guy.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/01/2008 09:21:00 AM | |

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